US Army soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (173rd ABCT) have arrived in Poland to conduct a bilateral infantry exercise with the Polish military, amid the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
Pentagon press secretary navy rear admiral John Kirby said the company-sized element comprising 150 soldiers will be followed by an additional 450 personnel for similar drills in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, by 28 April.
According to Kirby, the exercises will take place over the next month, after which the Pentagon will dispatch fresh troops in a bid to develop a persistent rotational presence in the Baltic region.
"Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthen Nato’s defence plans and capabilities, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to [the] collective defence in reinforcing our Nato allies in central and eastern Europe," Kirby said.
The US is believed to be discussing the expansion of bilateral exercises into other countries in the region, and the establishment of combined events involving other Nato members and partner countries.
"It’s a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe, … and we encourage our Nato partners to likewise look for opportunities of their own to do this same kind of thing for one another," Kirby added.
Since the start of Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Obama administration has been exploring options to reassure its allies and partners of its commitment to the collective defence principles outlined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
As well as deploying additional F-16 fighters and personnel to Lask air base in Poland, and USS Truxton to the Black Sea, the US has also announced non-lethal military, economic and health and welfare assistance packages to Ukraine.